Rail bosses have given the go-ahead to major improvement plans on the trans-Pennine line today.
They have confirmed the electrification of the line will now go ahead - three months after it was “paused”.
And it is expected to create six faster trains per hour on the line through Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Work to electrify TransPennine railways will resume under plans announced this afternoon as part of Sir Peter Hendy’s work to reset Network Rail’s upgrade programme.
Sir Peter outlined to the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin how work could continue. and the Minister has replied to the Chair of Network Rail asking Network Rail to un-pause this work.
Network Rail will work with the Department for Transport and Rail North to develop a new plan for electrification of the TransPennine line between Stalybridge and Leeds and on to York and Selby to focus on delivering key passenger benefits as quickly as possible. This is an improvement on the previous plan which only changed the power supply of the trains.
The new plan will deliver faster journey times and significantly more capacity between Manchester, Leeds and York.
The upgrade is expected to provide capacity for six fast or semi-fast trains per hour, take up to 15 minutes off the journey time between Manchester and York and be complete by 2022.
When the work is finished, the whole route from Liverpool to Newcastle (via Manchester, Leeds and York) will be fully electrified and journey times will be significantly reduced compared to today’s railway.
New Northern and TransPennine rail franchise awards will be announced before the end of the year. The new franchises will deliver new train carriages and remove out-dated Pacer trains; introduce free WiFi on trains; and offer a one-third increase in capacity with 200 additional services on weekdays and Saturdays and 300 more train services on Sundays.
Mr McLoughlin said: “As a one nation Government we are making sure every part of Britain benefits from a growing economy. Connecting up the great cities of the North is at the heart of our plan to build a Northern Powerhouse. This Government will see the job through and build a better, faster and more reliable railway for passengers in the North and Midlands”.
Sir Peter said: “The temporary pause in the programme has given us the space to develop a better plan for passengers. People can expect more services and faster journeys. We face some difficult challenges, and there is more work still to do, but the Secretary of State’s decision means we can now move forward with our plans to electrify TransPennine and Midland Mainline”.
The Huddersfield Examiner and the Manchester Evening News launched a campaign after the scheme was halted, calling for it to be brought back on course.
Many critics argued that the decision to pause the scheme would hit Government hopes of creating a so-called Northern Powerhouse.